Developing hydroponic systems for vegetables sown at high density | 2 Mers Seas Zeeën

Hy4Dense

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Developing hydroponic systems for vegetables sown at high density

Priority Axis

Technological and Social Innovation

Specific objective

Technological Innovation

Lead partner

Inagro

Start Date

01/02/2019

End Date

30/09/2022

Project budget

2 857 450

ERDF amount

1 714 470

ERDF rate

60%

    About

    Common challenge

    The program area has a strong focus on stimulating sustainable, resource-efficient production through technological improvement. Innovative production improvements by growers by introduction of novel hydroponic cultivation systems offers great potential to produce high-quality crops with reduced environmental impact. Hydroponics benefits growers by increased productivity, by improved efficient management of crop cultivation while controlling diseases that influence yield and revenue. More than 90% of greenhouse cultivation of fruit vegetables has shifted to hydroponics; leafy vegetables grown at low plant density (e.g. lettuce) are starting to implement systems. However, no straightforward solutions are available for vegetable crops traditionally densely sown in rows in the field. Investing in a novel hydroponic system developed in co-creation with the stakeholders and adequate technology transfer to adapt skills for implementation will therefore be a key output from Hy4Dense.

    Main Achievements

    The development of a hydroponic cultivation system fit for use by growers of densely sown vegetable crops is based on information from testing and exchange. In this first project phase small scale experiments are currently going on, resulting in new specific technological needs for the hydroponic system. The small scale experiments will be concluded in September 2020.

    Breeders, growers and manufacturers are represented directly in co-creation groups in Belgium, the Netherlands and UK. Also French stakeholders are involved through the Belgian network in France. A first meeting of the co-creation groups has been held in May and June 2019. 

    Small steps in the design with first prototypes are being evaluated in small scale experiments. The partners have collected a range of seeds (for different plant varieties of densely sown crops) for testing and started up their first small scale tests (in the greenhouses in B, NL and UK) with prototypes developed by Howest.

    Specific test results regarding germination, growth and algae growth are exchanged between the partners and will be regularly exchanged with the different target groups through the meetings of the co-creation groups and communication acitvities along the project. 

    New knowledge, acquired through testing and in exchange meetings, feeds into the specifications for a base hydroponic infrastructure to be tested and demonstrated in the pilot systems in Belgium, the Netherlands and UK.

    Partnership

    Partners

    Proeftuin Zwaagdijk

    NIAB

    Howest (Hogeschool West-Vlaanderen)

    University of Essex